“Its been a busy summer of early season racing in Australia for me personally, but in the first official race of the season for CANYON//SRAM Racing, we couldn’t have asked for a better start together in Qatar!” That was Tiffany Cromwell’s reflection on the Ladies Tour of Qatar won by her CANYON//SRAM racing teammate Trixi Worrack after 4 tough stages of racing across the desert.
“The racing in Qatar is always tough, known for its windy conditions and wide open roads and this year was no different. With two key days on stage 2 and 3 where we knew the wind would be strong enough to cause havoc on the peloton, these were the days we focused on to set ourselves up for the overall victory. In fact on stage 3 winds were super strong, ranging from 30km/h to a reported 60km/h with crosswinds for the first 22km of the race which saw the peloton split to pieces within the first 2km.
Throughout the entire race we were consistent, continually having strength in numbers at the front of the race. The team never missed a single split and even although it wasn’t necessarily us who were the ones starting the echelons when the opportunities arose, whenever they did we were there and were dominant in numbers. It’s clear that in the desert you have to make the splits when they happen or your race is over, very rarely once the front group is established in the crosswinds does it come back. Having the dominant numbers each time in the first splits, it meant we were able to dictate things when we needed to.”
The race netted Tiff two top 10 places and an added bonus of 7th overall in the general classification, despite her playing a supporting role in the team and helping set up Trixi once she was in a position to take the Gold jersey. “Trixi took a 2nd and a 5th place in the race and was in the virtual lead on stage 3 when we were in the front group without the current race leader. So as a team we all got behind her and supported her to secure the Gold leaders jersey and take it all the way to the end of the race. It was a nice bonus to take out the overall teams classification in the race too so we could all share the final podium with Trixi.
When you look at our team in recent years, we have always started slow and built up during the season as the team dynamic has developed, but this year things are different. We dont have to re-gel as a team. We’re a new team but many of us raced together last year and we have brought in a couple of new riders who are fitting really well into the squad. We had a really good composition with the core group last year and know how to race together and really believe in each others capabilities. We didn’t have to change much to make things even better. The team showed real class in Qatar and it was so satisfying to be part of.”
Tiffany travelled back to Europe after the race and is now in her usual home in the South of France to get ready for the classics campaign. “I am going to have a mini break now for a few days. Then it’s all about the classics. I cant wait to get to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. From there it will be full gas for 6 weeks. Now I will recover for a week and then have two weeks to put in the final touches on my condition to be ready when the season is in full swing as we hit the Spring Classics. Qatar gave me a lot of confidence and is showing the hard work over the winter is paying off. I didn’t find it as hard as recent years to push my way into the echelons and I feel strong. The skills and condition needed for the classics are there”
Tiff has also been getting used to her bike and all the new kit of the team. “I have been riding my Canyon Ultimate CF SLX bike for a couple of months now. I love it. It’s dynamic, fast and I have real confidence in it. The new Rapha kit is fantastic and they are a very generous sponsor, supplying us with plenty of kit for all conditions. I am actually clearing out the wardrobe to get all my new kit in!”